The Importance of Amenities for your Community
Amenities continue to rank among one of the most important considerations for prospective buyers in both urban and suburban community settings across the country. While the pandemic has caused many to re-evaluate and re-prioritize what type of homeowner association amenities are most important, they are still highly influential in motivating a homebuyer's decision about where they ultimately choose to live. Communities that fail to meet buyer expectations or that fail to plan amenities around consumer interests can be negatively impacted in terms of sales, referrals, profitability, and reputation of their brand. Homeowner associations, tasked with planning for new amenities and implementation of supporting programming, will influence these essential variables.
The specific types and levels of amenities available in a community will vary from one property to the next. Overall community size, the planned scope of the infrastructure, and available resources for funding typically have the most significant impact. New or emerging trends in programming, interests unique to a specific geographic region and natural features of the land can also influence amenity planning and design. Although the developer or builder of a new community will usually drive amenity planning efforts early on, responsibility for updating or adding new amenities as a community grows and evolves will eventually fall to the HOA. Information on trends and buyer interests that should be considered in planning for amenity additions or renovations can be derived from various sources.
Larger-scale communities may plan dedicated amenity space for a broad base of program functions. At the same time, smaller properties are likely to rely on multi-use spaces that can be used for a variety of activities. Whether the community is situated right downtown Minneapolis or can be found in a more spacious suburb like Woodbury, homeowners of all ages influence the overall community and amenity design. So what amenities are now considered most important? Let's take a look.
Urban Homeowners Association Amenity Trends to Consider
One thing the pandemic did was cause residents to re-evaluate which HOA amenities are most important, as many ended up being closed for the duration of the pandemic. This was especially true for urban communities as residents shifted to working from home, often having to share smaller spaces with multiple family members all trying to work or study at the same time.
With the line between home and office blurring throughout the pandemic, outdoor living spaces became much more critical as residents looked to find an outdoor oasis that could feel like a break from their usual day-to-day living. Spaces that allowed residents to socialize in a safe environment like outdoor lounges and dining spaces gained popularity and it became about more than just having some lounge chairs with a decent view. For communities with roof top patios, looking at a small redesign to include fire pits and fire tables with comfortable seating around them, give residents that vacation feel without the usual travel.
Outdoor spaces that allow residents to remain active ended up at the top of the wish list as most indoor gyms were closed. Allowing for an open area that can be dedicated for various fitness classes that require minimal equipment such as yoga increased in popularity as did the addition of some outdoor fitness equipment. Pools continue to be a popular choice as it can not only provide a fitness option to residents but also offer them that vacation vibe on hot summer days.
An indoor amenity that was added to many urban community resident’s wish lists was conference rooms or private single-use rooms that feature multimedia capabilities that could be reserved. This gives residents the option to find somewhere away from the rest of the family to participate in important work meetings without interruption. As many company’s opt to continue to allow for employees to work from home, this is a trend that is here to stay, especially for those living in large condominium buildings.
What About Suburban Homeowners Association Amenity Trends?
For those looking to buy in the suburban market, they are often looking for similar amenities as what is available in the urban market but on a larger scale. With more single-family style properties available in the suburbs, they are also looking for family friendly amenities.
Larger-scale communities found in the suburbs might offer indoor amenities such as performance theaters or auditoriums, gymnasiums, on-site food and beverage venues, demonstration kitchens or childcare facilities. The addition of what would be considered a maker space became more prevalent throughout the pandemic. This is a space specifically designed for creative craft that can include working benches, floor drains, and extra HVAC ventilation and provide a place for community hosted events suitable for all ages.
Outdoors, bike trails and walking and jogging paths, community parks with outdoor picnic areas, barbeque areas, children's playgrounds, sports courts and pools or splash pads are also typical on the menu of amenity offerings at these suburban communities depending on their size.
Many families grew over the pandemic with the addition of a puppy, and with a new family member comes unique needs. A dedicated space for all the community's four-legged friends to run around safely has gained importance. Pet washing stations or pet grooming rooms have also become something pet owners seek out when looking for a community to call their own.
Homeowners Association amenity trends and offerings vary by region
Although many of the trends and interests in HOA amenities and programs we see across various lifestyle communities seem to be universal, others may be unique to a specific community or geographic region. Regardless of the community location, when planning for new amenities or programs, it's important to understand the interests and opportunities that may differentiate your consumers or the property itself. For example, communities with interior lakes or other waterfront areas may naturally attract homebuyers who enjoy their aesthetic appeal or seek waterfront activities. Leverage those opportunities by incorporating swimming beaches, canoe and kayak facilities and fishing venues, and supporting programming.
Strategies That Can Help a Community Deliver Five-Star Homeowners Association Amenities
Offer amenities that make the lives of residents easier and more enjoyable. Consider how they enhance property values, promote quality of life and nurture safe social interaction between homeowners.
Ensure amenities are planned to meet the unique needs and interests of your current homeowners and potential buyers.
Use amenities to help showcase the community's lifestyle. Locate them in visible areas and design them to make a strong marketing impact.
Leverage natural features such as lakes, parks, woodlands or other dramatic views in the design of the community and its functional outdoor amenity components. Preserve open space for aesthetic enjoyment and play where you can!
Ensure amenities are right-sized and economically feasible for the community. Needs and interests must be balanced with the overall return on capital investment.
Understand the concept, strategy, and importance of adequately funding for reserves. Position your community to have access to funding for future repair and replacement of amenity assets to minimize adverse impact on your homeowners.
Remember that amenities are not just about what's available internally to a community. Don't forget about lifestyle offerings that may be available close by. Easy access to museums, theatres, restaurants, sports complexes, walking trails and shopping venues, for example, can all have a favorable impact on the resident experience. They can also help motivate interest in your community among prospective homebuyers.
The right amenities can make all the difference in keeping your community marketable in a competitive environment, as well as keeping your current residents happy. A quality property management company can be an invaluable partner in helping your community identify and plan for needed upgrades and implement the supporting programming that nurtures relationships and enhances the quality of life for your homeowners. For more information, contact FirstService Residential, North America's leading property management company.